We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again, Canadian manufacturers can no longer afford to ignore social media.
We’ve been advising clients on social media use for years, and never has it been more important to have an effective online presence, than now.
Without it, companies risk being left behind as their competitors and their offerings are found by prospective buyers.
If 2020 and 2021 have taught us anything, it’s that customers are online. They are online all day, every day; in the office, at home and while travelling.
With a quick online search, potential buyers find new products and services. Social selling is not new, yet many manufacturers continue to resist using social media as a tool to get noticed. If your company isn’t in the space, your company and products or services, won’t be seen - and opportunities will be lost.
We get it - adopting any new way of doing things can be stressful. But, manufacturing leaders need to consider and weigh the current landscape and benefits to the company for using social media. It’s a powerful tool that gets businesses and products noticed.
Similar to websites, social media helps pique potential customers’ interest and can open the door to conversations, which could lead to sales. Stop wasting valuable time and resources and help current and future customers find the products and services they want and need.
Here are 3 common reasons we hear that prevent companies from opening and maintaining social media channels, and why we know they are myths.
1. Our company doesn’t need social media
The short answer, is, yes, it does.
Today, social media is just as important as having a website and a phone number. It’s a way for customers to find you and your offerings and in many cases start a conversation, which leads to inquiries and potential sales.
2. We have specialized products
Do you want to launch a new product or service, drive visitors to the website, promote an event, recruit staff, enhance customer service efforts or promote the company and its people as thought leaders? Then social media is a way to help you accomplish these goals.
A solid social media strategy will call attention to the information and tools your customers may already be asking for. Help them find what they need by leading them to the right places (website) or people (customer service) quickly and effectively.
3. We don’t have time for social media
Companies need to find the time for social media. Yes, developing content, posting and responding to inquiries will take some time and commitment to manage. It’s like managing a website, email and other customer service tools. Social media takes consistency and dedication but the payoff is worth it.
Don’t assume your team will need to be available 24-hours a day. Most companies aim to respond to comments or inquiries within a reasonable timeframe, such as a business day. Have someone able to respond as you would a phone or email response.
How can manufacturers get started? The important thing is to get started!
Get to know where your competitors and staff are getting their information. Chances are, your company should be there too. Make no mistake. Starting social media is a commitment and requires a strategy. But, doing so, and doing it well, will pay off in the long run.
With a proper plan, any manufacturer can (and should) create a solid social media presence.
To get you started, consider the following:
1. What do you want to accomplish with social media?
Before starting any social media accounts or campaigns, set some clear corporate goals for this tool.
Social media is a great way to raise awareness, generate leads, engage past and potential customers and more. Are you looking to attract new hires? Consistent activity will show your past, present and future stakeholders that you are committed to advancing your business and meeting their needs.
Name your short-term and long-term goals. Doing so will guide your social media activities and level of investment.
2. Know your audience
To properly reach your goals, it's important to understand who you're targeting.
A defined target market will give your social media strategy more clarity and focus, and make it more effective. Remember that depending on your goals, your audience may vary for each social media campaign.
Having a good understanding of the various social media sites and their specific demographics will also help align your company with the right channels. For many businesses, having a few strategic social media accounts is the right thing to do. Rarely, do companies need to open accounts on all platforms right away.
Don’t forget about your own teams as an audience. Your people have a vested interest in your company and products doing well. They often want to share exciting news and developments. Plan to create content and information your employees would be proud to share with their contacts, on the platforms they already use.
3. Decide what platforms to use
Social media is not a one size fits all game. Once you confirm who your audience is, figure out where they are looking for information and what they are looking for. Are your customers and prospects on Facebook and/or Instagram, or are they more likely to be searching on YouTube or LinkedIn?
What do your competitors use? Most likely, you would use those same platforms.
Many companies choose not to execute on all channels - and they don’t need to. The key is figuring out which channel will give you the biggest impact and execute well on those.
There is no value in opening an account on an image-only social media channel if your product is custom-designed or needs to be explained. In these cases, you would opt for a platform where you can do both, and/or point your audience to your website for more information.
Once you decide what platform(s) to use, you’ll also need to establish the right tone of voice for your company and services. Having a consistent tone will help set the stage for future posts and conversations about your business and products.
4. Determine a budget
Set a budget before you start so you can make the most of your social media marketing dollars.
Although you can use many social media sites for free, consider setting a budget for things like paid advertising campaigns on Facebook and/or LinkedIn or you may want to think about new creative elements for your company’s social media profile.
Will you incorporate new images, videos or elements you may not currently be using on your website? The world of social media is always changing, so allow some budget to experiment and evolve your channels and messaging over time. This will give you the flexibility to open your business up to new opportunities down the road.
Setting a budget will also help you stay on track. Be prepared to test your social media efforts to see which channels generate the best ROI. Testing will highlight if a channel isn’t working for your business, before investing countless dollars on something that isn’t needed.
5. Establish appropriate resources
A properly managed social media strategy takes time and effort. Consider whether you have the proper resources to manage social media campaigns across various platforms. If not, start with one and figure out a good cadence for consistent, useful messages.
The best way to fully understand if your social media is working for you is to monitor it regularly. By understanding whether or not your strategy is working, you will be well equipped to tweak your program as necessary along the way.
It’s not enough to set up a Twitter account and tweet once a week. You need to engage with your customers, tweet or post updates regularly and reply to comments. This is true for any of the social media channels you decide to use. Regularly posting and sharing is critical to success. As a whole, social media should translate into added value to your customers and potential prospects resulting in a solid ROI for your company.
If you are concerned about the amount of time posting and responding to social media will take, consider using an outside vendor for your social media strategy.
6. Always share strategically
Avoid posting without a purpose. Sharing content for the sake of sharing is often a wasted effort. In time, and with practice, it will get easier to know what to post and when.
Before posting anything online, make sure the content fits with your corporate persona. Every business has a lot to share, from accomplishments and new products to staff recognition and urgent updates, the content you share should be a reflection of your business and values.
Here is a variation of a checklist used by PR practitioners and marketers before sharing content online. The rules are the same for B2B companies, marketing companies and agencies. If you can't answer all of these questions with a "Yes", then don’t post it:
- Am I speaking with the right corporate voice?
- Does this content add to our brand?
- Would I say the same things if this were in person instead of online?
When done correctly, social media will translate into added value to your customers and potential prospects resulting in a solid ROI for your company.
Need help with developing a social media strategy for your business?
Contact us. We’ve helped lots of manufacturers understand what channels are most effective for their audiences and help them get started.
Mezzanine B2B Growth Agents specializes in B2B demand and lead generation for companies that have a complex sale. It’s all we do, so we have the depth and breadth of experience to help your manufacturing company continue to grow.
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Want to know how a B2B company went from 50 to 500 leads a month? Short answer: smart digital marketing. For the longer answer (with tips and best practices you can apply to your own marketing roadmap):
Originally published in October 2019, this post has been updated to add new guidance and more information that was not included in the original post.